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Undergraduate Research

The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Undergraduate Research program offers UNC undergraduates the opportunity to work side-by-side with graduate students and faculty members on cutting-edge psychological and neuroscience research. Conducting hands-on research helps students develop a deeper understanding of psychological and neuroscience research methods and to prepare for graduate school.

Spring 2023: The priority deadline to apply for PSYC/NSCI 395 is Monday, December 15, 2022 by 5:00 pm. The final deadline to apply is January 4, 2023. Applications must be submitted and approved by the instructor of record by this deadline. If applications are submitted by this date, you will be enrolled in PSYC/NSCI 395 before the start of the semester. See this document for information on how to register for PSYC or NSCI 395.

Applications received between the priority deadline and final deadline will be processed in the order they are received. Please be aware that if you submit your application after the priority deadline, we may require a quick turnaround from you and your faculty mentor if there are changes to the syllabus needed to ensure that you are enrolled by the last day to add to classes. No applications will be accepted after the final deadline.

PSYC/NSCI 395 is not offered during the summer. However, you can enroll in an Undergraduate Research for course credit (URES *95) course if completing a research experience during the summertime to fulfill the General Education, Research & Discovery requirement. If you plan to enroll in URES 395 and would like for this to count towards your PSYC/NSCI major, please contact Drs. Chanon (PSYC majors) or (NSCI majors).

If you are a high school student or undergraduate interested in research or graduate school, we invite you to view additional information online: Resources for Getting Involved in Research.

Frequently Asked Questions – Students

When am I eligible?

You can participate in undergraduate research as a volunteer at any point in your undergraduate career. You simply need to find a willing mentor.

You can participate in undergraduate research for PSYC 395 or NSCI 395 course credit if you

  • Find a willing mentor
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Meet the pre-requisites
    • For PSYC 395: PSYC 101 and two additional PSYC courses at the 200-level or above
    • For NSCI 395: NSCI 175 and two additional STEM courses, one of which must be at the 200-level or above

Note: The requirement for NSCI 395 is to complete 2 additional STEM courses one of which must be at the 200 level or above (NSCI, CHEM, BIOL, PHYSICS, etc.)

Please note that you may also participate in the Honors Program in Psychology and Neuroscience, if eligible, for additional research opportunities and benefits.

How do I find a research mentor?

Expect your search for a research position in a faculty laboratory to be a very time-consuming process. Make sure to start your search 2 to 3 months before the start of the target semester. You can find a mentor by:

  • Searching the UNC Office for Undergraduate Research’s Database of Research Opportunities
  • Identifying mentors in the Department:
  • Identifying faculty mentors outside the Department
    • Faculty members in other departments may only be a PSYC 395 or NSCI 395 mentor if they conduct psychological/neuroscience research and they collaborate with a faculty member within the Department.
  • Checking bulletin boards and reviewing fliers in Davie Hall

Once you have identified a potential mentor, send them a professional email containing your resume, available hours, relevant skills and experience, and a short written essay about why you would like to work in their lab. We recommend you contact several potential mentors to increase your chances of finding a research opportunity.

What are the requirements for PSYC/NSCI 395?

Requirements are based on a 3-credit course and include:

  • Identifying a faculty mentor
  • Lab work within the faculty mentor’s lab
    • Approximately 9 hours per week in the Fall or Spring
  • At least 10 pages of scholarly work
  • At least four meetings per semester with your faculty advisor
  • Weekly meetings with direct supervisor

How do I apply for PSYC/NSCI 395 credit?

We accept electronic applications for PSYC 395 or NSCI 395 online. When you log into the system, select which type of independent study – PSYC 395 or NSCI 395.

Here are the steps to complete the application:

1. Student completes the application form.
2. Student submits a new contract and a syllabus – be sure to include the application form from the step above. The syllabus should include course requirements, basis for assessment, a statement that the student will work 9 hours per week, and a statement that the student will write up to 10 pages of scholarly work.
2. The mentor receives an email with a link to the OLCM system, with options to approve, send back to student, or reject. New supervisors should also submit the Supervisor Orientation Form.
3. If approved by the mentor, the department coordinator receives an email with a link to OLCM, with options to approve, send back to student or instructor, or reject.
4. If approved by the coordinator, the scheduling officer receives an email with a link to OLCM.
5. Once approved, our coordinator will enroll students on PSYC/NSCI 395. Enrollment will take place during the first week of classes. To avoid delays, make sure that you have space in your schedule or an approved overload request.
6. After the scheduling officer schedules the section and enrolls the student in ConnectCarolina, OLCM will move the submission to completed and upload all materials to the Online Syllabus Manager.

Please note that students are only able to enroll in and receive credit for a maximum 6 hours of NSCI 395 or 6 hours of PSYC 395. Only 3 hours of PSYC 395 or NSCI 395 will count toward major requirements.

How do I share my research?

Participating in research with a faculty member is a great start, but you can share your research and explore more avenues to prepare yourself for a career in psychology:

  • Complete a Senior Honors Thesis
  • Find a conference to present a poster of your research
    • Find opportunities via the Office of Undergraduate Research. Some include the Carolina Research Scholar Program, the Celebration of Undergraduate Research, the Atlantic Coast Conference Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.
  • Publish your research in a journal
  • Seek funding for your research
    • Visit the Carolina Internal Funding Database. Some opportunities include the OUR Undergraduate Travel Grant (up to $500), CV Starr Scholarships (up to $3125), Travel Fellowships (up to $4000), and the Burch Fellows Program (up to $6000).

Ask your mentor how to find these opportunities, check out the Office of Undergraduate Research, or search undergraduate funding opportunities through the OUR Database or the Carolina Internal Funding Database.

Frequently Asked Questions – Faculty

Am I eligible to be a mentor?

Psychology and Neuroscience faculty who are tenure, tenure-track, or on the fixed-term teaching track are eligible to be independent PSYC 395 or NSCI 395 mentors. On the application, faculty in this position can be both a faculty sponsor and direct supervisor.

Faculty who do not have tenure or graduate students who wish to serve as a PSYC 395 or NSCI 395 mentor must find a Psychology and Neuroscience faculty sponsor (i.e. a tenured, tenure-track, or fixed-term teaching track faculty mentor). Faculty in this position may eventually be eligible to serve as their own faculty sponsors, once they have mentored seven or more students, consistently followed PSYC/NSCI 395 policies, and the research involved is relevant.

Please note if you are a new supervisor, or have not served as an Instructor of Record for two consecutive semesters, you must fill out the Supervisor Orientation Form.

How do I advertise for a position?

Here are a few ways to advertise:

Many faculty advertise in the middle of the semester for a student to work in the upcoming semester.

Are there any recommendations for new supervisors?

If you are a new supervisor, you must submit the Supervisor Orientation Form.

We recommend:

  • You carefully screen and interview applicants for your position.
  • Students should work in the lab for longer periods of time (i.e. come in once a week for three hours, rather than three times a week for an hour). This allows students more time to re-orient.
  • Give weekly detailed instructions to the student. Plan ahead of time what you want the student to get out of the experience. The sooner the student understands the background and process, the sooner they feel a part of the project.
  • Monitor student activities weekly.
  • Incorporate a variety of laboratory activities.
  • Make PSYC/NSCI 395 a rewarding experience. Incorporate students into the lab – allow ownership of a project!

How many students may I mentor a semester?

A faculty member may supervise up to five students per semester.

What is needed at the end of the semester?

  • Students should have final papers completed and turned in by the last day of classes. Students should also upload a copy of the final paper in Sakai.
  • Grades must be submitted in ConnectCarolina within 72 hours of the first scheduled final exam.

Contact Information

Dr. Vicki Chanon
Director of Undergraduate Psychology Research
236 Davie Hall
(919) 962-5081

Dr. Shveta Parekh
Director of Undergraduate Neuroscience Research
266 Davie Hall

Christopher Coffey
Assistant Department Manager
203 Davie Hall
(919) 962-7149